Published on August 5, 2020
Below are seven things to know about primary care:
What is a primary care provider?
A primary care physician, or provider, is a doctor or advanced practice provider (APP) who basically navigates the healthcare system for a patient, according to Cory Offutt, MD, a family medicine physician with the Phelps Health Medical Group. This provider is the first access point into healthcare who can manage a patient’s chronic conditions, recommend preventive care and offer referrals to specialists. A primary care provider is a one-stop-shop, so to speak, to be able to care for a patient’s needs.
How does somebody get established with a primary care provider?
To get established with a primary care provider, click here and learn more about providers who fit your specific needs.
What is preventive care?
Preventive care helps detect or prevent serious diseases and medical problems before they become major, Dr. Offutt said. Preventive care can include vaccines or screenings for breast, cervical or prostate cancer, for example. Many people do not realize that there are certain age ranges that screenings should take place, he noted. For example, pap smears should begin at age 21 for women, diabetes screenings should begin in your 30s and yearly cholesterol screenings should take place around age 40.
Can I change my primary care provider?
Yes. You can choose a provider who best fits your needs, and you can request a primary care provider who can care for your health and wellness in a way that works for you, Dr. Offutt said.
How can patients prepare for their first primary care appointment?
New patients can prepare by bringing in a list of their current medications, medical history and chronic conditions as well as previous medical records.
Does a longer appointment translate to higher-quality care?
Not at all. If you have a shorter appointment than normal, it generally means that your appointment went well, Dr. Offutt explained. However, your primary care provider is always willing to spend time with you to address your needs and answer any questions you may have.
What has changed with primary care now because of COVID-19?
Primary care is the epicenter of prevention when it comes to COVID-19. While the emergency departments are at the forefront, your provider can help prevent exposure by utilizing Telehealth visits, according to Dr. Offutt. Telehealth visits allow patients to see their provider from the comfort of their house, keeping them from traveling to a visit and reducing exposure.
To establish care with a Phelps Health primary care provider, call (573) 364-9000.